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Unilever - Improving livelihoods of smallholder farmers

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and leading global consumer goods company Unilever signed a public-private partnership agreement aimed at helping to improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers around the world.

The 5 year global agreement – the first of its kind by IFAD with the private sector – was signed by IFAD President Kanayo F. Nwanze and Unilever CEO Paul Polman to help improve food security through: raising agricultural productivity; linking farmers to markets; reducing risk and vulnerability; improving non-farm rural employment; and making agriculture more sustainable.

Scoping exercises have already begun looking at ways to leverage IFAD’s knowledge and expertise in working with small-scale farmers and rural enterprises with Unilever’s ability to integrate farmers into markets and its expertise in sustainable agriculture. These have included a joint field mission to review an IFAD-supported project in the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra, Western India in January 2014, focused on spices and onions.

About 1.2 billion people live in poverty, 76% of whom live in rural areas; and 200 million are unemployed1. This will be exacerbated as the growing population demands more food. The world will need to feed nine billion people by 2050. A 70% increase in global agricultural production will be essential to feed them, as we’ll need to produce as much food between now and 2050 as we have done in the last 10,000 years. Unless higher small and large crop yields can be reached, many people will remain hungry and trapped in poverty.

Both IFAD and Unilever have similar geographic footprints and countries– like China, India and Indonesia - that are key to development and growth. Both organisations are guided by similar principles and shared aims and commitments to improving livelihoods of smallholder farmers and eradicating poverty.

Through a programme of loans and grants supporting over 256 projects and programmes in
97 countries, IFAD is helping 78.7 million rural people receive services to move out of poverty. Women in particular are targeted, accounting for about 50 per cent of participants in projects in 2013.

In November 2010, Unilever set out its Sustainable Living Plan, committing to a ten year journey towards sustainable growth – with the aim of helping more than a billion people take action to improve their health and well-being, sourcing all its agricultural raw materials sustainably by 2020, and decoupling its growth from its environmental impact. Supporting these three big goals are seven pillars including three focusing on enhancing livelihoods, sustainable sourcing and nutrition.

Since the end of 2010, Unilever has increased the number of smallholders trained in sustainable practices to around 450,000.

Notes - Source: ILO 2013 Global Employment Trends Report


See more at: http://www.ifad.org/media/press/2014/12.htm#sthash.ZelZATgX.dpuf
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